Tylenol Side Effects

What are possible adverse effects of Tylenol?

Tylenol has few side effects, and reacts with very few medications (you should avoid combining Tylenol with NSAID analgetics like sulindac, or with amphetamines, methylphenidate, benzodiazapines and barbiturates). In recommended doses it is generally considered to be a 'safe' medication, though with some reservations.

Rare side effects can include: constipation, skin rashes, dizziness, sedation, shortness of breath, hypersensitivity reaction, fainting, nausea and/or vomiting, confusion, loss of short-term memory, drowsiness, changes in blood, allergic reactions, euphoria, dysphoria, abdominal pain, itching, easy bruising and bleeding gums.

Due to the fact that Tylenol is a compound product, possible side effects may be accounted for by the effects of its constituents - acetaminophen (paracetamol) and codeine.

In large doses acetaminophen can be toxic to the liver. Normally, maximum dose of acetaminophen is 30mg/lb or 4 grams a day for healthy adult patients. However, when one is suffering from liver diseases or taking other drugs metabolized by the liver, the dose of acetaminophen should be greatly lowered. You should remember that some other medications can contain acetaminophen, too. Patients should be aware of the risk of overdosing acetaminophen when combining such medications with Tylenol. Consuming more than 4 grams of acetaminophen a day can cause liver damage, jaundice, and even liver failure, if the drug is being taken in narcotic effect seeking dosages for an extended period of time. Acetaminophen should not be used for over two weeks without seeking medical advice.

In some cases, acetaminophen liver toxicity makes its overdose fatal. Symptoms of overdose are often not experienced during first 24-48 hours. When the patient begins to feel nausea and/or severe abdominal pain in the region of the liver, it may be too late to seek treatment.

Acetaminophen is especially dangerous when combined with alcohol.

Acetaminophen can cause kidney failure in vulnerable persons. These include alcoholics, elderly people, and persons with pre-existing liver or kidney damage.

Unlike aspirin, Tylenol is safe in children as acetaminophen is not associated with a risk of Reye's syndrome in children with viral illnesses. Also, when taken in recommended doses, Tylenol does not irritate the stomach (one of the side effects common with aspirin) - another feature that makes it a popular medicine.

Acetaminophen has not been found to alter mood, causing euphoria, etc. It has a very low addiction potential and almost no risk of withdrawal.

On the other hand, the second active ingredient in Tylenol - codeine - has a larger potential for abuse and dependence, although it does not damage the liver. Codeine is an opioid, possessing a well-marked analgetic effect. The content of codeine in Tylenol increases according to the number of the marketed brand, being especilly high in Tylenol 4. High doses of codeine taken during a prolonged period of time should be avoided in order to prevent the risk of developing dependence in the patients. The other unwanted side effect of taking codeine is reported in breast-feeding mothers whose rates of metabolism of codeine to morphine are particularly fast. This genetically caused peculiarity results in higher levels of morphine being passed through breast milk, which may cause fatal respiratory depression of a breasted baby.

All these adverse effects can be well excluded when Tylenol is not overdosed, and one keeps track of all the medications combined with Tylenol.

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